Google Doodle honors Michiyo Tsujimura, green tea chemist

The latest Google Doodle honors Michiyo Tsujimura, the Japanese chemist best known for her in-depth research into green tea.

Life of Michiyo Tsujimura

Michiyo Tsujimura was born on September 17, 1888 — 133 years ago to the day — in the city of Okegawa in Saitama Prefecture, Japan. During her school years, Tsujimura was inspired to pursue a career in scientific research.

After graduation, Tsujimura briefly taught at two different schools for women before landing a position at Hokkaido Imperial University in 1920. During her time at the university, her research was focused on the nutritional value of silkworms.

In 1922, Tsujimura transferred to the Tokyo Imperial University, but unfortunately the lab she was working at was destroyed in a major earthquake in 1923. Recovering from that disaster, Tsujimura transferred to another lab where she worked under Dr. Umetaro Suzuki, a doctor of agriculture famous for discovering vitamin B1.

During her time at this lab, Michiyo Tsujimura and her colleague Seitaro Miura discovered that green tea was a natural source of vitamin C. Their research contributed to a noted increase in the amount of green tea being exported to North America.

Digging deeper, Tsujimura gradually found and isolated more of green tea’s chemical composition, including catechin and tannin. She published these findings and more as her doctoral thesis in 1932, making Tsujimura Japan’s first woman doctor of agriculture. Continuing her research, in 1935, she patented a way of extracting crystalized vitamin C from plants.

Following her research career, Tsujimura became a professor of Ochanomizu University and later at Tokyo Women’s Higher Normal School, eventually becoming the school’s first dean of the Faculty of Home Economics. Michiyu Tsujimura died on June 1, 1969, at the age of 80, and in Okegawa today, there is a stone memorial to her and her many accomplishments.

Michiyo Tsujimura Google Doodle

In the Google Doodle celebrating her 133rd birthday, we see Michiyo Tsujimura hard at work analyzing and extracting the chemical components of green tea. The letters of the word “Google” are formed from a variety of research components, including a tea shrub, a hot cup of green tea, a flask, and a pen and notepad.

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